Dropping your knickers for an espresso

Nov 30, 2012



Confused system  = Confounded Consumer – Keep the espresso coming!


Earlier in the summer we mentioned the now infamous German Ökotest

In case you missed this storm in a tea cup, it is certainly worth goggling and translating, as it is the first really high profile, consumer study, which questions and indeed disputes the value which accredited coffees purport to deliver to the farmer – those in the subsistence supply chain and indeed to the consumers desperate for a  salve for their guilty western consumerist consciences!

On Friday 27th July, the German magazine Ökotest published an article reflecting on the results of a ‘Which’ style consumer test which they had conducted


Entitled “Fairer Handel. Unfaire Geschäfte” (Fair Trade = Unfair Businesses), the test and subsequent article attempted to determine which accredited standards and ‘off the shelf’ brands and labels could be considered ‘fair’ and which ‘unfair’…. The article covered off various product categories amongst them, coffee and cocoa….

Ökotest defined four criteria for a ‘fair’ product –

1)    A guaranteed minimum price for producers

2)    Pre-financing

3)    Legally established minimum wage for workers

4)    Compliance with the core labor standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO), most notably a ban on child labour

Worthy and rather dull and heavy – these criteria coincide with the standards of the Fair-trade FLO Label … and Ökotest labeled anything which differed from these criteria as per se, to be “unfair“!

Now by any standards that is a broad brush…but in the case of this specific high profile blunder, what had been missed was that neither Utz, RFA OR 4C, all of which came under heavy fire in this test, purport to be offering ‘fair’ or fairly traded product…. Seems like a giant own goal – unless of course you consider that in a competitive market place, with margin erosion and market share as bloody a battle has has been seen for many a year, such profile PR is a god send to FLO!

You will not be surprised to hear that Utz, RFA and 4C did not take this lying down and issued  a stroing and hard hitting but professional rebuttal  from which the following quote is taken verbatim-

‘Finally, the 4C Association, the Rainforest Alliance/SAN and UTZ Certified would like to state that they do NOT consider their standards to be fair trade neither do they claim to be fair trade. Each system has its own objectives and targets. Therefore the three organizations found it surprising and disappointing to have been compared against the distinctive features of Fairtrade, with the consequence of being devalued as “unfair”. Ökotest has missed an excellent opportunity to educate consumers about the many paths to sustainability being chosen by farmers and the broad positive impacts associated with each standard compared to outmoded, conventional approaches that keep farmers in poverty and destroy the environment’

Funny old game isn’t it… but Aromo can’t help thinking and feeling that this all smells a little too rich… for Ökotest to make quite such a monumental muck up, only a few years after having published an even handed consumer review, suggests the larger and more Orwellian hand of ‘Big Brother’ at play here – manipulating both the message and the messenger, with the ultimate aim of gaining a tad more margin and a  percentage point of share…


Rest assured, we here at Aromo will not be dropping our knickers in the pursuit of a quick buck and a fast game…those salty and old enough know good things only come to those who wait!

Guru writes for Aromo Coffee – They are coffee experts focussed on providing convenient and tasty ways for the caffeine addict to take their medicine. Aromo supplies excellent ESE Coffee pods and superlative Senseo pods,  both of which offer the espresso and filter connoisseur  a no mess, no fuss,  super fresh and environmentally conscious method to make stunning coffee… the guys at Aromo also have a range of Dualit branded capsules which make a brilliant and economic alternative to nespresso capsules

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